While much of the buzz in the endoscopy/urology & gynecology realm recently has revolved around robotic surgeries and problems with the various meshes, there are a number of other interesting topics in this space. For example, there are some new treatments that are potentially on the rise, such as high-intensity focused ultrasound. Another area that is gaining an increasing amount of attention these days is endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). EUS has been around for awhile?since the 1990s?and has gained acceptance as an effective imaging tool. In particular, EUS has proven useful at staging various cancers, especially when it is used to guide fine-needle aspiration. Industry sources have also indicated that physicians are increasingly performing EUS as a precursor to endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (for good reason simply referred to as ERCP) to better identify what kind of treatment is needed and to potentially reduce the amount of contrast media that needs to be injected. As a result, EUS has continued to become increasingly popular and MRG predicts that demand for ultrasound endoscopes will grow at a compound annual growth rate of approximately 15% through 2016, well outpacing growth in the other videoscope markets.
But the story doesn?t just end there. The future of EUS may not just be all about diagnosis?it shows some serious potential for interventions as well. EUS-guided fine-needle injections have already been used for celiac plexus neurolysis and celiac plexus block, which sound fancy but are essentially methods of reducing chronic abdominal pain resulting from cancer or pancreatitis. In the long term, and with some device innovation, various sources are suggesting that EUS may have a future in biliary drainage, pancreatic pseudocyst drainage, cancer treatments (such as the injection of chemotherapy drugs), pancreatic cyst ablation, gastrointestinal tract interventions, or even vascular interventions. And if these predictions come true, the demand for ultrasound endoscopes could skyrocket. Some companies, such as Boston Scientific, are already starting to acknowledge this potential and are discussing the future of EUS in their earnings calls.
It looks safe to say that this will be an increasing focus of R&D for endoscopic device companies going forward.